Just in time for the end of the tank rebate, the prices at the pumps have skyrocketed, more than the expired state concession amounted to. The price of oil is a fifth cheaper than at the beginning of June. It smells strongly of rip off.

At the turn of the month, the lively turning of fuel prices began. The direction is clear: upwards. And significantly more than the expiry of the tank discount was feared anyway. Measured against the average prices, a liter of diesel would cost 2.14 euros after the end of the tank discount, petrol 2.18 euros and E10 2.05 euros.

The oil multinationals, however, still hit a whopping premium on top. At some motorway petrol stations, the prices have even exceeded 2.50 euros. “The mineral oil companies are making record profits during the crisis. This is bitter for the many consumers who have to worry about whether they can still pay for the next tank of fuel,” complains Marion Jungbluth from the Federal Association of Consumer Centers (vzbv).

The corporations are apparently betting that consumers have long since forgotten the daring reasons why they were not able to pass on the discount in full at the beginning of June. As a reminder: at the time it was said that the expensively procured fuel had to be sold first. With the tank discount – so the assumption – petrol station operators bought their petrol around 30 cents per liter cheaper, diesel it was 12.66 cents per liter.

In addition, the federal government had not levied any VAT, so that motorists should have saved arithmetically 35.2 cents per liter on petrol and 16.7 cents on diesel. In fact, prices quickly rose again. “If you factor out the tax cut, the price at the gas station has risen more than the price of crude oil since the end of May. Of course, that raises questions,” stated the President of the Federal Cartel Office, Andreas Mundt.

According to estimates by the taxpayers’ association, the fuel discount has burdened the federal budget with more than three billion euros. The discount was passed on to consumers rather hesitantly, if at all. But what worked slowly downwards is now lightning fast. If you follow the reasoning of the oil companies in June, who said they still had expensive petrol in stock that first had to be sold, the question arises: is all petrol and every drop of diesel in Germany overnight Gas station tanks have been replaced, or why are prices skyrocketing?

The association of the mineral oil industry “En2x” refrains from taking a position on this question. The silence is revealing and comments on itself. Not the fuel, but the earnings situation has changed significantly overnight.

“The energy tax cut has been widely passed on. This has been confirmed by independent studies,” said En2x CEO Adrian Willig in a written statement. However, the market mechanisms continued to be effective during the period of the energy tax cut. “In Germany, the low water level on the Rhine, a high load on the freight railway and the partial failure of a refinery in Austria that is important for the supply of southern Germany are currently additional logistical challenges,” says Willig, explaining the current market situation.

“It is surprising that when the tank discount was introduced, the prices for fuel were only hesitantly reduced, but that the phase-out was passed on immediately with a price jump. If competition at the pump does not work or if prices are raised excessively, the cartel office must intervene and impose penalties,” says Jungbluth, a consumer advocate. She advises plagued drivers to compare prices with an app and tend to fill up in the evening.

The fuel rebate was part of two relief packages the government launched to ease the burden on people in the face of rising energy prices. The measures worth 30 billion euros also included the 9-euro ticket, the abolition of the EEG surcharge – which had been decided long before that – the flat-rate heating fee and the energy price flat-rate of over 300 euros, which is now paid out by employers. The increased fuel prices make it easier to finance the various packages, because the state earns a lot from the increase in mineral oil and value added tax.

According to the Bundeskartellamt, it intends to keep an eye on fuel prices in the coming weeks. Companies should not benefit from the current situation at the expense of consumers. “The Federal Cartel Office is closely monitoring the development of fuel prices,” promises the head of the agency, Mundt. So far, these monitoring missions have had no consequences.

That doesn’t go far enough for consumer advocates. “We urgently and immediately need a third relief package that offers targeted help to small and middle-income people. For financing, the federal government should examine all the instruments that can be used to skim off the exorbitant profits of the energy companies,” demands mobility expert Jungbluth.

For the general manager of the oil association, it is the wholesale prices for the fuels that largely determine the basic price development at the filling stations – not the crude oil prices. Because they fell from $115 for 159 liters of crude oil in early June to $93 now. So a good fifth less. It will be interesting to see what explanation the industry finds as to why a rising oil price then immediately hits the gas stations again.

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The article “The oil multinationals expose themselves with a reaction to the fuel price explosion” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.